Many job applications are structured in certain ways, the hiring company doesn’t get just to this for ease of reading for the applicants, but they do it to weed out individuals from the very first letter they have in their job posting.
The sneakiest trick they use is in the case of ‘cover letter optional’ There might be some companies, that don’t want to receive them, but to the most, if you don’t include a good cover letter when it says they are optional. It shows you don’t really care for the position. It is a missed opportunity of landing that dream role.
As with a well-crafted resume, this cover letter is crucial for setting that all-important first impression.
The problem that faces job applicants is, there are so many ways you can craft a cover letter for best effect.
This cover letter guide runs through the most straightforward way of crafting the best cover letter and to help increase your chances of beating the opposition to that job.
What Is the Purpose Of a Cover Letter?
A brief overview of what a cover letter is for is, it is a way of telling hiring companies why they should be hiring you above anyone else.
It shows how fit you are for the position, how professional you are, and your overall competence.
Your cover letter needs to fulfill all of the following:
- Introduce you.
- Mention the position you are either applying for or looking for.
- Match your experiences and skills against the skills in the job description (it can be used as a way to expand and highlight what is in your resume).
- Used as a means to get the hiring manager to read your resume
- Finish with a call to action – this can be requesting an interview or asking to meet.
How Many Paragraphs Should a Cover Letter Be?
This is dictated by how long should a cover letter be, and as with your resume, it should be no longer than one page in length.
The word count for a clear and legible cover letter should be no more than 500 words, and when laid out in paragraphs, this would be three paragraphs, with four being the maximum. This wouldn’t include any salutation or signing-off.
How Do I Write a Cover Letter?
It is this area when you really need to focus on your content. There are some things which won’t vary for every person, such as names and addresses, etc. Here is a breakdown of what to put in a cover letter.
Name and Contact Details
All name and contact details are to be placed at the top of your cover letter. There is no need for you to include a full postal address, but there must be a contact telephone number and email address.
The contact number must be one that you will be able to answer straight away, there is little point giving a landline if you won’t be at home to take the call.
Your email address should also be a professional looking one, and not one that contains letters and numbers and sounds like gibberish.
The Company Name and Contact Details
These should be placed underneath your contact details, and should include:
- The person to whom you are writing
- Their position within the company
- Their contact details
If you can’t find this information, you should call the company and ask who you should address your cover letter to. ‘To Whom it May Concern’ can be used, but this should be used as a last resort.
The Job You are Applying For
In the first line, you must state the position you are applying for. This can either be a line on its own such as: “Re: Application for Warehouse Manager position.” Or, it can be included in the opening paragraph, an example being “I am writing to apply for the warehouse manager position.”
Listing Your Relevant Skills
When it comes to adding skills into your letter of application, you should have a brief summary that matches all your experience and skills to the job description. This can be done in a bullet list to make it easier to read.
When you are writing this part, you need to make sure you have read the job description thoroughly.
There could be essential skills the company is looking for, and also ‘desirable’ skills. As with your resume, you need to fulfil all of the essential skills and as many as the ‘desirable’ as possible.
You might think, your skills are the most essential part of your cover letter, but that is only part of it. You might wonder what to put in cover letter details that could be more important than your skills.
A quick summary of why you are the right person for the job. A hiring company will have many applicants, and they want to see why these think they are the best fit.
Speaking Their Language
Your resume, when written correctly, will use the same sort of words and language that is used in the job description. Your cover letter should follow both the job description and your resume. If you write in one way on your letter and you use different words on your resume, it will quickly be noticed.
There is one worthy area to note, and this might depend on the company where you are applying.
There are a lot of companies that now use ATS software (Application Tracking Software). These are designed to scrawl through resumes with many newer ones reading through cover letters as they are being scanned.
For the sake of these, it is crucial you follow the same language and the same keywords in both your resume and your cover letter.
How Do You Begin a Cover Letter?
This can be the hardest part for any person. How do you start your cover letter?
As we have seen, there are three main goals of a cover letter. This is telling the employer:
- Who You Are
- Why You are Writing to Them
- And, Why Should the Person Continue Reading?
This might sound clear-cut, but there are some ‘clever ways’ that you can use to open your cover letter.
“My name is Matt Edwards, and I am writing to apply for the position of content writer.”
This example covers two of the three goals. It says who the person is, and why they are writing.
There is no need to mention where the job posting was seen because the employer would know where they have posted the position.
If a person is known inside the company (friend or family) this can be a good time to mention this connection.
Following on from this, the third part of the goal needs to be addressed. This is the time and area to say how good you are, and also give the reader a reason to keep reading.
“With more than a decade of SEO content creation across a wide range of media types, I believe I would be an ideal candidate for the position.”
This part gives the reader a reason they should continue reading. It states how long the position has been held and also offers a glimpse of the gained experience, and what more might be contained on the resume. It also ends with a strong and confident statement of intent.
How to finish a cover letter is as crucial as how you start them. Without this intent, you would leave the reader hanging, and they would have no reason to read your resume.
Although the cover letter has its own function, it should be used as an introduction to further information which supports your application.
How to Write the Best Cover Letter
If you are applying for positions and you are unsure how to craft a well-written cover letter, you might see scattered around the internet a lot of cover letter templates.
On occasions, these could suffice, and all they require are applicants to fill in the blank spaces. The problem with readymade templates is, they are generic and won’t be tailored to either you or the job posting.
It is better to use them for reference and to see what information they use, and then you can adapt them to write your own.
One more thing to consider is you might be asked to submit your cover letter via email. If this is the case, things will be a little different in the cover letter writing. When this happens, you should use the following guides:
- Wrote your name and job title in the email subject line. Example Matt Edwards – Application for position of content creator.
- Don’t forget, you will still need the name of the person who you are writing to, this would be even more important if you are sending to the company’s generic email address.
- Because this will be read on the screen, you shouldn’t format your cover letter in the same way as a paper letter. Contact details should be omitted, and you can head directly to the “Dear XXXX” opening part.
- When ending your email, it should be finished with a professional signature that includes your telephone number.
Note: This email should be sent from a professional looking email address.
If you are searching for resume writing examples, you will see these can differ for many types of applicants. Cover letters will follow this trend and will vary depending on the applicant’s current situation. They might be a graduate, school leaver or someone who has many years of experience.
It could be the case the individual is unemployed, or they are returning back to work after starting a family.
It can all be overwhelming while trying to set the impression which matches the best. Luckily, the professional resume writing services will often expand from this and have in their employment a professional cover letter writer.
Using these services, you can cover all of the angles needed and leave with a complete package that can quickly be adapted for any position that is applied for.
A tailored resume, cover letter, and email template don’t appear generic, and you will be sure that there is no other applicant following the same style.
Where a company has their own branding and their own voice. Using a professional service will help with your personal branding voice and offer you the very best chance to be heard.